By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
BRENTWOOD — Vern Blanchard Powers, a longtime leader in the Tennessee Baptist Convention, died Dec. 19 at the age of 94 at his home in Old Hickory.
Though born in Evansville, Ind., Powers spent most of his life in Tennessee. His dad, Blanchard Powers, also was a longtime pastor.
Vern Powers served as pastor of several churches in Tennessee, including Green Hill Baptist Church, Mount Juliet; First Baptist Church, Greenbrier; First Baptist Church, LaFollette; and Glendale Baptist Church, Nashville.
He joined the staff of the Tennessee Baptist Convention in 1971 and helped pastors and staff members across the state with their insurance and retirement needs.
“For many years, Vern was one of the best known staff members in the state,” said Gary Rickman, director of strategic relationships for the TBC. Rickman succeeded Powers in 1991 after Powers’ retirement a year earlier. “He was a friend to pastors and other staff members,” Rickman said. He added that Powers also was “a mentor to several young pastors of my generation.”
In a column published in 2010 shortly after his 90th birthday, Baptist and Reflector Editor Lonnie Wilkey described Powers as a “Baptist statesman in Tennessee.”
Wilkey wrote: “Vern Powers transcends labels. He accepts you for who you are and makes you feel like you are one of the most important people he has ever known.”
After his “retirement,” Powers remained active in Baptist life. He served as a liaison (actually a goodwill ambassador) for Baptist Hospital in Nashville after the hospital left the auspices of the TBC in the early 1990s. He also served as a member of the TBC Executive Board and was elected a vice president of the convention after his retirement.
Powers was preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Bettye Powers, and a son, Timothy. He is survived by four children (Snookie Dixon, Jeanne Oneacre, Judy Fryer, and Jerry Powers), five grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.